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The "miracle" alternatives: what's really working

MagazineAugust 1996 (Vol. 7 Issue 5)The "miracle" alternatives: what's really working

Germanium is a biological response modifier, which means it helps the body modify its response to tumours

Germanium

Germanium is a biological response modifier, which means it helps the body modify its response to tumours. It appears to transport extra molecules of oxygen easily through the body and inside individual cells; as cancer cells can't metabolize oxygen, this could stop their growth or return them to normal. Its most important function may be to enhance the production of our own interferon, recognized as a powerful anti cancer agent (Tohoku J Exper Medi, 1985; 146: 97-104).

Scientific evidence of success: In a double blind, placebo controlled study in Japan of patients with inoperable lung cancer, patients receiving germanium in addition to chemotherapy or radiation had a higher response rate and improved survival time. The treatment worked best on small cell cancers. At least 13 animal studies show evidence of anti tumour activity (Inter Clin Nutr Review, 1987; 7 (1): 11-20).

Downside: The inorganic form of germanium can cause kidney damage (Renal Failure, 1991; 13: 1-4). This damage has been caused by germanium oxide, not organic form used in cancer patients, in all but one instance. Nevertheless, germanium can be contaminated with germanium dioxide during the process of being produced. No reliable test for purity exists.

Laetrile (amygdalin)

Found in over 1200 plants, amygdalin, also called vitamin B17, is a nitriloside found in some 1200 plants, the seeds of non citrus fruits like apricots and peaches. When broken down by one of the enzymes of our body, cyanide is released. Since cancer cells contain thousands of times more of this enzyme (beta-glucosidase) than normal cells, much more of the toxic cyanide is released and selectively poisonous to the cancer cells (our bodies have other enzymes which make this substance harmless to ordinary cells). Hence, in theory, amygdalin is the perfect, selective search and destroy substance for cancer therapy. Laetrile is the patented product of a group of doctors in San Francisco, who pioneered the use of the substance.

Scientific evidence of success: Studies by internationally respected research scientist Dr Kanematsu Sugiura between 1972-7 found that amygdalin did inhibit lung metastases. Cancer researcher Dr Ralph Moss, then a science writer at Sloan-Kettering, claims the institute covered up positive results with amygdalin (Cancer Therapy, Ralph Moss, Equinox Press, New York, 1995). Another study claimed good results with breast and bone cancer patients with higher doses than had been used before (70 gm/day). Leukemia patients didn't respond (Choice, 1977; 3 (6): 8-9.

Downside: Reports of severe or fatal toxicity in children and adults, but mainly those who ingested high doses made for injection (Pediatrics, 1986; 78: 269-72), and usually among those self medicating. Intravenous amygdalin appears less toxic. Avoid taking with high doses of vitamin C, which lowers the ability of normal cells to detoxify the cyanide.

Shark Cartilage:

As we all now know, sharks don't get cancer, largely due to the anti tumour action of their skeletons. Something in shark cartilage prevents angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels. Scientists theorized that taking supplements of powered shark cartilage would work as an anti angiogenesis preventing tumours from getting bigger.

Evidence of success: Animal studies by prestigious Belgian chemotherapist Dr Ghanem Atassi demonstrated that tumours did not proceed in mice given shark cartilage (J Advance Med, 1991; 4 (4): 263-71). In a 1992 study, eight women with advanced breast tumour receiving 30-60 grams of shark cartilage daily all showed improvement; tissue in the tumours died or was encapsulated.

Other studies, mainly supported or endorsed by Dr. William Lane, author of Sharks Don't Get Cancer, who markets a patented form of the supplement, also show promise, particularly with high doses administered rectally (1 gm per each 2 pounds of body weight.) The rectum's rich supply of capillaries make it the most efficient route of administration.

Downside: No known toxicity. Some patients complain of slight nausea or loss of appetite.


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